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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EUR/SE, EUR/PD, NEA/PD, DRL
JCS PASS J-5/CDR S. WRIGHT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 2007


In Today's Papers

Turkish Army Chief on Northern Iraq, Turkish Presidential Elections
All papers report Yasar Buyukanit, the chief of Turkish General
Staff (TGS), told the press in the first briefing he held since he
took office that a military incursion against the PKK in northern
Iraq should be made, adding that a political decision from the
government was required to authorize such a move. Buyukanit noted
at the gathering attended by the entire military top brass that the
military expects increased PKK terrorist activities in May and that
a large-scale military operation has been going on in southeastern
Turkey. In what press are interpreting as a covert referral to
Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani and the US, Buyukanit said
those who "spoil" the northern Iraqi Kurdish leaders, encouraging
them to make such statements, were known. He also accused the
Kurdish leaders of extending logistical support to the PKK.
Buyukanit is not hopeful that Iraq's territorial unity could be
protected. "It's difficult for the three main groups in Iraq to
continue to live together," he said, "I am not of the opinion that
there would be a solution in the short or medium terms."

On the upcoming election of Turkey's new president, Buyukanit said,
"We hope the next president will be somebody genuinely bound by the
basic values of the republic, including secularism, not only in his
words, but in his heart as well." "I hope such a president would be
elected, but the decision will be up to the parliament," said
Buyukanit. Responding to a question on the controversial "Republic
Rally" to be held April 14, the military chief said no one should be
afraid of legal demonstrations held in a non-violent manner, and
that everybody can use such a democratic right.

Conservative and Islamist papers comment that Buyukanit's remarks
were a disappointment for those expecting a crisis. Buyukanit
issued a message of respect for the law, Yeni Safak says. Some
observers in the Turkish press believe Buyukanit's words indicated
opposition to the presidential ambitions of Prime Minister Erdogan,
others, however, think Buyukanit approved of Erdogan becoming the
next president, an evaluation shared by government figures.

Editorial Commentary on Buyukanit Remarks; Iraq
Semih Idiz commented in the mainstream daily Milliyet: "The remarks
of General Buyukanit indicated a problematic period ahead vis-`-vis
relations with the Western world. He gave some of his messages
indirectly or covertly, but reading between the lines we can see
that the Turkish military finds Barzani's statements [about
retaliation for a possible Turkish intervention in Kirkuk]
unacceptable and believes that, having spoiled the Kurds, the US is
behind those words. The possibility of a cross-border operation was
also mentioned in the context of ending the PKK trouble and teaching
a lesson to Barzani who was 'spoiled by the US.' General
Buyukanit's remarks set the tone regarding the army's view on the US
as well as Europe. The US is spoiling the Kurds and therefore they
are working against Turkey. As for Europe the General noted that
'there are certain centers in Europe aiming at dividing Turkey.'
All of this demonstrates one thing: Turkey is entering a challenging
period in its relationship with the West."

Kubilay Celik wrote in the ultra-nationalist daily Tercuman:
"Whenever the PKK problem gets more serious, the US rushes to apply
the usual formula -- it is up to the Iraqi government to handle
because there is now an independent Baghdad government -- and we are
supposed to take this as a fact. If that is the reality that Ankara
has to accept, then we deserve an explanation about the rationale
for sending a copy of the diplomatic note for Iraq to Washington.
This seems to be an indication of other facts, such as, Iraq is
still under US occupation and the current Baghdad government is a US
puppet. The developments in the region also make us believe that
Ankara is sending a warning signal to Washington by sending a copy
of the diplomatic note. If and when a cross border operation is
carried out, Washington will not be able to claim 'we were not

ANKARA 00000868 002 OF 003


informed.' Let's look at another fact: The US is capable of
finishing off the PKK overnight, if it really wanted to."

Arinc on Presidential Elections Process
All papers report Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc said in a press
briefing Thursday he will initiate the first round of voting for
presidency if at least 184 lawmakers are present in the parliament,
stressing the two-third majority of 367 MPs was not required for the
process, as some opposition leaders have maintained. Arinc said the
elections would be completed without any crisis and that those
expecting a disturbance would be disappointed.

Arinc stated that applications for candidacy will start on the 16th
and end on the 25th of April. "If none of the candidates get the
sufficient number of votes, which is 367, then we will hold a second
round after three days. If we attain no result, a third round will
be held after three days. In the third round, the simple majority
of votes, that is 276, will be required to elect the president. If
none of the candidates poll 276 votes, we will hold the fourth round
for the two leading candidates. If no candidate receives 276 votes
in the fourth round, the Constitution stipulates that elections must
be renewed," Arinc emphasized. He added the new president will be
sworn in with a ceremony in the Turkish Parliament on May 16.

Arinc also warned the public against supporting the April 14
"Republic Rally" organized by former gendarme commander Sener
Eruygur, who had recently been the focus of allegations for a
military plot to oust the government in 2004.

PM Erdogan Responds to Questions on Presidential Elections
All papers: Responding to the questions of journalists yesterday,
PM Erdogan said that they would wait until midnight April 25 to
reveal the name of their Presidential candidate. The PM continued
his rounds of talks with AKP deputies yesterday. He told them "as a
poor person, I have no desire for Presidency. My goal is to bring
the gross national income above $ 10,000 and create a respected
country where people live comfortably." Evaluating General
Buyukanit's remarks, PM Erdogan said that "he spoke within the
framework of democracy and law."

April 14 Rally in Ankara
Sabah, Cumhuriyet, Vatan, Aksam and others: Papers report that the
security forces will take extensive measures for the "Republic
March", arranged by the Ataturk Thought Association, which will be
held in Ankara on April 14. 10,000 policemen will be on duty during
the rally. Sabah reports that because of the rally hotels in Ankara
were fully booked.

Paper: Turkey-US Agree on Closing Makhmour Camp
The intellectual Islamist-oriented Zaman reports Turkey and the US
have agreed on the closure of Makhmour Camp in northern Iraq. The
issue will be discussed at a UN meeting in Geneva on April 17-18
among Turkey, Iraq, and the UN. An agreement on the Makhmour
closure will have to be approved by the Turkish Parliament, which,
according to Turkish officials, could take time. Expecting not all
of around 12,000 refugees in the camp to return to Turkey, Ankara
warned the US not to allow their relocation to Kirkuk or other areas
near the Turkish border, according to Zaman.

TV Highlights
NTV (6 a.m.)

Domestic News

- Two PKK suspects plotting bomb attacks in Istanbul have been
captured by police.

- Prime Minister Erdogan is to visit Germany on April 14-16.
Erdogan will meet with Chancellor Merkel in Hannover over the
weekend.

ANKARA 00000868 003 OF 003

- Nobel laureate Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk has traveled to Paris
to deliver a lecture at Sorbonne University on Friday.

International News

- The death toll from the al-Qaeda-claimed suicide bombings in
Algeria rose to 33.

- A suicide bomber killed three lawmakers and another five Iraqi
civilians inside the Parliament building in the Green Zone in
Baghdad.

- Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth reports Israel's negotiations on
selling the joint US-Israeli Arrow anti-missile system to Turkey has
been stalled by US objections.

- Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said tribesmen have killed
some 300 foreign militants during a weeklong offensive in South
Waziristan.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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